- Pope John Paul II tried to discourage scientists from understanding the origin of the Universe.
The holy father's statement was actually something like the following:
- It's OK to study the universe and where it began. But we should not inquire into the beginning itself because that was the moment of creation and the work of God. God chose how the universe began for reasons we cannot understand.
But Hawking, playing the role of Galileo, heretically proposed the Hartle-Hawking state:
- Does it require a creator to decree how the universe began? Or is the initial state of the universe determined by a law of science?
Hawking thanked either God or the wavefunction of the Universe that the Pope was not bright enough to figure out that Hawking had actually given the heretical talk about the Universe's origin already, before he was warned. ;-) Hawking prefers to avoid the Inquisition and not to share the fate of Galileo Galilei who died exactly 300 years before Hawking was born.
Incidentally, Hawking's wife has threatened that if Hawking's new voice generator has French accent, she will divorce this famous colleague who is just visiting Hong Kong.
Some sources, including Catholic League president Bill Donohue, try to argue that Hawking has misrepresented the Pope, but the Reference Frame believes that Hawking's formulation is fully equivalent to the formulations that these sources offer.
If the lay readers are uncertain whether they should believe the Pope or Stephen Hawking, I suggest they still prefer the source with 1362 citations which seems to be neither the Pope nor Bill Donohue, with all my respect to both Gentlemen. ;-)
Bill Donohue tried to argue that the Pope has not threatened Hawking. Donohue's argument was as follows:
- Hawking, who claims - without any evidence that space and time have no beginning and no end, would be wise to refrain from positing false absolutes and learn to realize when he’s out of his league. Most important, he should stop distorting the words of the pope.
The Reference Frame, on the contrary, thinks that Hawking would be wise if he carefully copied the intimidating quote above, a quote constructed by a person who is in a very different league than Hawking indeed, and used it whenever he needs to prove that certain members of the Catholic Church have not changed much since the 17th century. ;-)
Donohue's quote sounds almost just like the feminists' opinions about the research of gender-specific neurophysiology, or a certain New York City blogger's opinions about string theory.
Greg Jones, who just defended his physics PhD, adds in his article "Hawking nonsense":
- One wonders whether the Pope actually recommended that scientists “should not inquire” about the beginning of the universe or rather cautioned that they would not figure out the beginning because it was accomplished through God’s miraculous work.
Congratulations to your PhD again, Greg. ;-) Just kidding. If you want a longer and diluted version of holy father's message to the conference - and a defense of the late Pope - see MaxedOutMama's blog.
The previous text related to Stephen Hawking was about space colonization.